Who’s watching you?

Most of us surf the Internet reading bits of information or watching videos without thinking of who might be watching what we are watching. Now a struggle over protecting online copyright material has led a federal judge to order YouTube to tell Viacom what individuals are watching online. Privacy advocates worry about this new invasion of privacy because YouTube’s information would include the unique identification of individual computers. It’s unlikely that Viacom cares who is watching Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, but they do care how many people watch these shows online instead of on TV. It’s always difficult to worry about whether a huge corporation might not be getting all the money it deserves, but the underlying principle of Internet privacy is important. As more information and entertainment gathering shifts to the Internet, decisions about who has the right to know what people are doing online are important. The Fourth of July is a celebration of freedom, but freedom is never absolute and drawing the line of where individual freedom stops still requires eternal vigilance.

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